• Kyodo


The Japanese Olympic Committee on Tuesday named speedskater Nao Kodaira as team captain for the Pyeongchang Winter Games next month.

Ski jumper Noriaki Kasai, set to compete at his eighth Winter Olympics, an all-time record, will carry the flag at the opening ceremony.

The 31-year-old Kodaira becomes the first woman to captain the Winter Olympic team since speedskater Tomomi Okazaki filled the role at the 2006 Turin Games.

The reigning World Cup 500-meter champion and 1,000 world-record holder, Kodaira is the favorite to win gold in both events in South Korea.

Kasai, 45, was team captain at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, where he took individual silver and team bronze for the large hill.

The veteran jumper, who made his Olympic debut at the 1992 Albertville Games in France, said he was honored to have been chosen as flag bearer.

“I’m so happy. After the (Sochi) Games ended, I thought it would be nice if I could carry the flag next time,” Kasai said.

“It is an honor to be picked from among so many great athletes.”

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